Rues and snickers smirked within the folds of a giveaway map. Streets laughed and the sun pelted the backs of our necks with insults. Resolving clouds simmered the skyward bullying as we found cover under a roadside bush. Greenery overflowed off the balconies of the residential areas and forgotten potholes cracked in every direction. Aged red bricks stacked high along the green sidewalks with the emotional agony of a Munch painting. For such a sublime adventure, the overwhelming presence of the colors green and red dominated the most calming afternoon stroll. Boston, visually dominated by contrasting colors, animated with the collegiate studies, while a warm bed and friends awaited in Providence, RI.
Students carrying guitar cases scampered between the many cafes and pizza parlors of our Boston nook. Music lessons and smooth scales tumbled from the windows of the neighboring Berklee School of Music. Our hostel animated with the pleasantries of diversity only a short stroll from the hub of local Boston academia. Sticky bar stools chatted with local sports and roadside greetings never concluded without a mention of last night’s ballgame.
A meander through downtown introduced us to what many of the students aspire for. Business suits and blackberries impatiently waited at red lights and what was once an army of guitar yielding students, changed to 9-5ers aggressively swinging brown briefcases. Culture, though not as dominate as once expected, occasionally showed its golden mustache, but became less visible as we dove deeper into downtown. Eyes yawn when streets of mobile providers dominate, but an awakening shove shook us from our observational slumber. A wide green lawn, surrounded by weathered benches, lured us by the sounds of chatty conversations and cold fountain water trickled around the feet of the tranquil. A large church loomed overhead and memories of European adventures accompanied our snooze in Copley Square Park.
Culture, clutter and chaos of the streets beyond the financial district and universities swarmed with Chinese restaurants, construction and Andre the Giant stickers. Shepard Fairy, in the midst of over a dozen vandalizing charges from the city of Boston, as well as solo museum show, aggressively covered every light pole, mailbox and street sign with a smorgasbord of his Obey imagery. An acknowledgment of each sticker and paste eventually led us to his retrospective show at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art.
With a firm understanding of Boston, we departed for Providence, RI and found ourselves in another studious community. Snug firmly between Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, awaited an open bed and fellow crawlers. A Volvo swooped us from the rain soaked train station and puttered us through another city preserved by history and built from stone and brick. Green again clashes with the crimson masonry and students rush in between classes. The sun winks and hides behind a thick cloud as we approach the stout facade of our Providence residence.
A freshly groomed garden sprouted in evenly arranged rows. Corn reached skyward, surrounded by a collection of footprints and other growth. The house, painted in a deep ocean blue and trimmed in an off white, stood strong in a conventional square construction. A homey front porch hung above another young garden and a wide smiling greeting was just a nod away. Two calm streets ran along the edges of the property, animated with bikes, crawlers and the occasional car while Paris peeks through the curtains.
New streets and undiscovered alleys awaited as we were led on a bike ride under the sun. Like a well planned tour, our stops included those less visited and not in city brochures. An art collective made up welders, a pottery school and other industrial artists was our first stop. Metal rusted in all corners of the gravel and grass lot. Artists dashed from one project to another and a self sustaining honeycomb buzzed with creativity. A variety of garage sales and street observations spotted our trek through the Providence communities. With an observation and understanding of a recently foreign city, we peddled our way back to the house.
A birthday morning carried us a short distance to the RI coast where small
windblown waves awaited. The beach was scattered with grass and flimsy fences and a low tide exposed critters of the ocean floor. Waves of local surfers arrived with coffee in hand and muttered complaints under their breath. The water was no colder than a Spring plunge in the Pacific and a few good rides carried us along the rocky coast. With sand in our hair, we left the community of Matunuck Beach and returned to prepare for a birthday celebration.
Observations clutter the mind during an adventure away from home. Similarities blend and differences scream for your attention. You attempt to sum up a location through a wide sweep of culture and community. Boston animated with students along brick streets overgrown with bright green shrubs. Accents rolled down the streets with astute analysis of last night’s ballgame and Andre’s posse ransacked the city streets. Providence again buzzed with the university lifestyle and a city’s historical pride. A collection of memories filled our books as we again heaved our bags onto our backs and headed for the big apple.
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